Sheridan Native Wins 2024 U.S. Strongman Nationals

Sheridan native Mitch Godwin calls himself a regular “working-class guy” with his day job at the local wastewater treatment plant. Outside of that, he’s a beast in the gym, winning the U.S. Strongman Nationals earlier this month.

Dale Killingbeck

June 25, 20247 min read

Mitch Godwin takes on the yoke device with 950-pounds attached to walk 100 feet across the gym.
Mitch Godwin takes on the yoke device with 950-pounds attached to walk 100 feet across the gym. (Courtesy Mitch Godwin)

Mitch Godwin is the go-to guy to hit up when you want to move some furniture, haul sacks of concrete or anything else that requires lifting anything heavy.

And why not?

The 29-year-old Sheridan, Wyoming, man is one of the strongest guys around. He proved it earlier this month by winning the 2024 United States Strongman Nationals competition in Denver.

“I am always asked to help somebody move house or come pour concrete so they don’t have to move bags,” Godwin told Cowboy State Daily. “I am the guy at work they call when they want something heavy moved. I don’t mind, I like that kind of stuff anyway. I am just a working-class guy.”

When not at work or helping someone move, the former high school shot putter and football player has dedicated himself to conquering a new sport — strongman.

At the United States Strongman Nationals on June 8, even with a painful bulging disk in his back from an earlier deadlift event, he was able to pick up three sandbags weighing 300 pounds, 325 pounds and 350 pounds, respectively. He then slung them over his shoulder, ran 25 feet and heaved them up over a bar.

These are the types of seemingly super-human feats of strength strongman competitors subject themselves to.

“I really didn’t know if I could do it, if my body was going to hold up,” he said. “But I ended up placing well enough on it to give me good points.”

Godwin competed in the under 308-pound weight class of superheavyweights, which is kind-of average compared to some of the elite behemoth strongmen.

The competition to get the title included doing the same things as the bigger guys. He had to lift a circus dumbbell with one arm for repetitions, perform deadlift of weights for repetitions, a yoke walk with weights on both sides, the sandbag steeplechase, and pick up a concrete Atlas stone that looks like a huge round ball and put it over a bar set at 52 inches.

He did the Atlas stone twice within 60 seconds.

‘It’s Kind Of My Calling’

For the yoke event, Godwin picked up 950 pounds of weight “in a really shallow squat” and walked 100 feet in 35 seconds.

Godwin got serious about powerlifting about five years ago. He had started working out to lose weight but said he was bored and needed purpose.

He remembered watching strongman competitions as a boy with his dad on late-night TV. He entered a few and became competitive four years ago.

“I started getting stronger and realized I could do it, so I just stuck with it,” he said. “I love the competition. I love the people I’ve met. I want to do big things in the sport. It’s kind of my calling now.

Part of his engagement with the sport comes from the camaraderie. While he is the only lifter at his Sheridan gym involved in strongman competition, he has been able to make a lot of friendships in the sport at various events.

He calls the sport a “brotherhood.”

“Everybody understands that we are pushing ourselves as hard as we can. These weights on paper look impossible, yet we are still doing them,” he said. “So, everybody has each others’ backs. We all just kind of come together and support each other.”

The support sometimes means lending other lifters equipment, helping them warm up, or helping clean up gear being used in the competition.

While all sports have common injuries such as shoulder, elbow or tendon issues for baseball pitchers; knee and ankle injuries in basketball; concussions, muscle tears and broken bones in football; weightlifters tend to tear their biceps, he said.

The extreme weights and feats of strength required for strongman competition are well beyond the tolerances most bodies are built for, so doing them with minimal injury is the No. 1 goal.

Godwin said he has been “fortunate enough” to avoid a biceps tear. He has seen other lifters with various tears and issues. His main concern remains his back.

Keeping it healthy is all about proper technique.

“My biggest thing that we are working on through this recovery of this injury is like reassessing my brace and putting it in a different spot, that way the tension is on the bigger muscles in my back instead of those little ones down low where I bulged that disc,” he said.

To qualify for the nationals, Godwin placed second at Colorado’s strongest man competition last August. In March, he won his weight class in a competition called the Shamrock Showdown in Denver.

Mitch Godwin performs a deadlift while training.
Mitch Godwin performs a deadlift while training. (Courtesy Mitch Godwin)

Water Treatment Coordinator

His strongman win is something he hasn’t really talked a lot about in Sheridan, but word is getting out and congratulations coming in.

“I’m not super open about what I do. I’m not posting on social media all of the time. I don’t talk to a whole lot of people,” he said. “I just go to work, go to the gym and then go home. A lot of people didn’t even know I was doing it, so it was all positive praise.

“A couple of the older folks at work are always looking out for me and giving me heck about hurting my back and stuff, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love this sport.”

At work, he is the operations coordinator for the Sheridan Wastewater Treatment Plant. He graduated from Sheridan High School and went to Dickinson State University to play football for a year. He returned home, got the treatment plant job and enjoys what he does.

The strongman has a science side who must make sure the lab analysis of water at the plant looks correct, processes are being followed, and the site stays within the bounds of its reclamation permit. He is working his way to a managerial role.

With the United States Strongman win, Godwin not only received a trophy but a chance at earning a professional card, an elevation to the next level of competition with the truly elite.

There was also an invite to a professional competition in Nevada that he will skip while waiting to rehab his back completely. He has been told his nationals win may lead to other opportunities.

Mitch Godwin tosses a 300-pound plus sandbag over the bar during the 2024 United States Strongman Nationals competition in Denver on June 8.
Mitch Godwin tosses a 300-pound plus sandbag over the bar during the 2024 United States Strongman Nationals competition in Denver on June 8. (Courtesy Mitch Godwin)

You Don’t Have To Be Huge

Godwin said strongman competitions are changing from the hulking 6-foot-54, 350-pound “mammoths of human beings” in the super heavyweight classes who claimed titles in the early 2000s to more athletic strongmen.

“Now, there is so much speed and movement in the sport that the guys who are 300 to 330 pounds are succeeding at those levels because we need to have better lungs, better mobility, and we need to have better speed,” he said. “And that’s the huge surge in what I would call is lightweight strongman — basically everybody under 240 pounds.

“They can all get really, really strong, but they are small enough to still be fast and agile, so that is spilling over into superheavyweight strongman.”

Godwin trains five days a week with four days of lifting and one day of cardio exercise. He focuses on learning how to move efficiently with the weight versus “just being statically strong like some of the older guys in the sport are.”

Ultimately, Godwin hopes to keep getting stronger and to qualify for other strongman competitions such as Giants Live and the Rogue Invitational, both prestigious events. His latest win has him hungry for more.

“I want to get strong enough and fast enough to be on those stages,” he said. “You know, get my name on the back of those shirts and throw my hat in the ring with those big guys and see what I can do.”

Contact Dale Killingbeck at

Mitch Godwin trains by lifting a huge steel pole.
Mitch Godwin trains by lifting a huge steel pole. (Courtesy Mitch Godwin)

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at

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Dale Killingbeck


Killingbeck is glad to be back in journalism after working for 18 years in corporate communications with a health system in northern Michigan. He spent the previous 16 years working for newspapers in western Michigan in various roles.